PHOENIX -- The state’s jobless rate jumped another half point last month.
And we haven’t peaked yet.
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New figures Thursday from the Arizona Department of Commerce show Arizona’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for August hit 5.6 percent. That compares with 5.1 percent just a month earlier -- and 3.7 percent the same time last year.
An identical half-point jump was recorded for the Phoenix metro area, pushing the jobless figure up to 5.1 percent. Pima County recorded a 0.6 point increase, to 5.4 percent.
The last time the state rate his 5.6 percent was in September 2003, on its way down from its 6.2 percent peak after the economic crunch following the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Dennis Doby, the agency’s senior director of research administration, said all indications are that the situation is getting no better and the state rate will hit 6 percent.
Those jobless figures are only a piece of the lackluster economic news for the state.
The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reported Thursday that total personal income in Arizona rose 1.6 percent during the second quarter of the year.
That is better than the 0.9 percent increase for the prior quarter. But it still lags the national average of 1.8 percent.
The figure is significant because it includes all sources of income for everyone in the state. And the population of Arizona is growing faster than the national average.
The new jobless numbers from the Department of Commerce also show another trend that indicates the problems with the state’s economy.
Those numbers actually come from two sources.
One set, a survey of employers, shows that the number of people working in non-farm jobs in Arizona is up by 34,000 between July and August. But a separate survey of individuals, asking them if they have a job, shows the number of Arizonans actually working dropped by 7,000.
Doby said that marked difference likely is because some people are being counted more than once: They have taken a second — and maybe a third — part-time job.
As has been the pattern, the state’s moribund housing construction industry continues to drive the employment situation. The state shed another 2,100 construction jobs in August, bringing the year-over-year losses to 37,200 -- and more than 55,000 from the industry’s peak two years earlier.
But low consumer confidence that the economy is going to get better also took its toll. Doby pointed out that employment in retail trade dropped 200 in August and is 7,000 below a year earlier.
“Evidently, those back-to-school sales are having trouble,’’ he said.
Doby said it is too early to predict whether Arizonans are going to spend more during the holiday season.
On one hand, he said, the price of gasoline is down and did not spike after the hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast. But Doby said there is still a general feeling of unease among consumers about spending more.
“Right now, I think everybody is sitting on the sidelines,’’ he said.
Seasonally adjusted unemployment rate
Area / August 08 / July 08 / August 07
U.S. / 6.1% / 5.7% / 4.7%
Arizona / 5.6% / 5.1% / 3.7%
Phoenix metro* / 5.1% / 4.6% / 3.2%
*Phoenix metro includes both Maricopa and Pinal counties
— Source: Arizona Department of Commerce